San Francisco is providing free alcohol, methadone and medical cannabis to homeless people quarantining in hotels during the coronavirus pandemic, the city said Wednesday.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health said during a news conference that it has provided addictive substances to 43 homeless addicts who are temporarily residing in hotels as a way to keep them in quarantine instead of looking for a fix out on the streets and possibly spreading the virus.
“They’re doing San Francisco a great service by staying inside,” Jenna Lane, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Health, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’re saying, ‘We’re doing what we can to support you staying inside and not have to go out and get these things.’ “
The city’s health director, Dr. Grant Colfax, told reporters, “Our philosophy in terms of treating those who suffer from addiction, substance use disorders is really again focused on science and the medical literature.
“Meeting them where they are so that they can be cared for in the most appropriate way,” he said, KTVU reported. “In the way that’s good for them and for our community.”
The city’s Department of Health initially confirmed the program on Tuesday after a Twitter user expressed outrage that the city was providing substances instead of treatment.
“I just found out that homeless placed in hotels in SF are being delivered Alcohol, Weed and Methadone because they identified as an addict/alcoholic for FREE. You’re supposed to be offering treatment,” the user tweeted. “This is enabling and is wrong on many levels.”
The San Francisco Department of Public Health responded, “These harm reduction based practices, which are not unique to San Francisco, and are not paid for with taxpayer money, help guests successfully complete isolation and quarantine and have significant individual and public health benefits in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
San Francisco is using city-leased hotels to house a total of 270 homeless people who have either tested positive for the coronavirus or are waiting out quarantine periods.